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Only half of students get the message on community living

Information campaigns designed to prepare first-year students for “living out” are reaching only about half of their intended audience, according to figures the University of Bristol presented at a meeting with residents in July.

The community liaison team runs a number of initiatives designed to educate students about issues such as waste recycling and noise that may be important when they switch to rented accommodation in their second year.

Changes made last year in the way halls of residence are managed have affected the way the

“Move On, Move In” campaign is delivered. Joni Lloyd, the community liaison manager, told the meeting there had been a “different approach” this year, in which she trained 128 Senior Residents—part-time support staff who live in halls—to “cascade” information to their students. One means of doing this was “kitchen talks”, held in the residences. Senior Residents reported having spoken to 2,844 students at such talks as part of “Move On, Move In”.

In addition, the community liaison team held stands in 18 residences and handed leaflets to 1,023 students, though it was noted that “very few engaged for long conversations”.

The overall outcome was that “Move On, Move In” reached only 47% of first-year students. At the Stoke Bishop halls, known as “North Village”, many of whose students subsequently live in the Redland area, the campaigns did slightly better, reaching 54%.

Attendance at kitchen talks isn’t mandatory.

Link to complaints

The fact that the information campaigns reach only about half of all students preparing to “live out", along with some doubt about whether the key messages are absorbed, suggests there are perhaps 2,000-3,000 students entering the community each year with little idea about what community living entails. It might also explain why residents frequently report encounters with students who claim not to know about the university’s rules, its advisory messages, or its system of fines and penalties.

The significance of the information campaigns’ limited success lies in the complaint statistics released by the university.

In 2018-19, as many as 60% of students who featured in complaints from residents about noise and other issues were second-years renting private accommodation, probably for the first time in their lives. This group of complained-about second-years came to 796, out of a total of 1,331 students cited in complaints.

Of the 796, some 630 students—or 79%—had lived in the catered halls at Stoke Bishop (“North Village”) the previous year. Last December, UoB drew a link to the educational background of the students involved, noting that more than half of those featured in complaints had gone to private schools, including boarding schools. “Students who have moved from boarding school to a catered hall to [the] private sector may be least experienced at living in the community,” it said at the time.

The July report also details other measures the university uses to convey information to students about living in the community: three “pop-up” stands focusing on North Village were held at the Transport Hub; separate stands were held at Badock and Churchill halls, which are furthest from the hub; artwork ran on the U1 bus throughout May and June; and digi-screens running on a loop conveyed information in residences.

Note: All complaint statistics mentioned above relate to students living in the community. They don’t include complaints about students living in halls of residence.



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